Why Your Release Might Not Make It In to Google News

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For many companies and agencies distributing press releases, appearing in online news outlets such as Google News is a significant benefit and often an important part of their PR or SEO strategy.  And from their perspective, getting in may seem quite straightforward when using a wire service such as Business Wire:  Write the press release, Send the press release, Appear in Google News!  What could be easier?

Well, what you may not know is that we do many things behind the scenes to deliver our content in a way that best complies with standards and rules laid out by Google and monitor performance to ensure the vast majority of our releases make it in to Google News.  On top of that, there are 18 reasons Google News may provide to us detailing why an individual release still doesn’t make the cut to reach their news index.  Some of these reasons are quite technical and are handled automatically by our world class technical team, but others vary based on the actual content of each individual release.  In this edition of SEO Tip Jar, I want to give you some insight into why Google News may reject your release and what you can do to best ensure that it doesn’t happen to you.

Before I get into it, please note that even if your release doesn’t make the cut for Google News, which in and of itself is an exceedingly rare occurrence, you will still be indexed by Google and available in the standard or “universal” search results.  Also, you can find the full list of rejection reasons in Google’s support section.  Of the 18 reasons Google may give, we tend to only see about five with any frequency.  Without further ado, here they are, in order of most common to least common:

“Article disproportionately short” /  “Article is too short”

Google does not give an exact word count to qualify for this criteria, but in my research this is most likely to occur when a release is less than 125 words.  However, I have seen instances when this reason is given in error as well with releases as long as 700 words.  In any case, these two errors constitute about 50% of the total errors we see, so be sure to make your releases at least 125 words to maximize your chances of inclusion.

“Page too large”

This is the most straightforward error in Google’s system.  Any page larger than 256KB may be flagged with this error, and most of the offenders tend to be very detailed and lengthy earnings reports with large tables and lots of text.  These releases are still indexed and available in Google Finance, which is usually the more appropriate and valuable venue for discovery.

“Title not found” (Title too short or long)

This is a deceptively named error, since it really means the title/headline of your release is too long.  According to Google, “…the title is required to be between 2 and 22 words, inclusive,” and headlines that don’t match this criteria are flagged with this error.  So be sure to check the word count in your headline and keep them relatively brief!

“Article Fragmented”

This error is very rare and only seems to occur on advisory releases with one sentence paragraphs or a very large number of bullet points.  It occurs when “The article …appears to consist of isolated sentences not grouped together into paragraphs.”  Avoid this error by ensuring the first paragraph of your release has at least two or three consecutive sentences.

Key Points

So if you want to best ensure your release gets into Google News, be sure to do the following with each release:

  • Write at least 125 words
  • Keep your headline between 2 and 22 words
  • Start your release with a three sentence paragraph

32 Responses to Why Your Release Might Not Make It In to Google News

  1. Thanks for the tips. SEO is sometimes really strange.

    As for “article fragmented,” I must say online writing and news and marketing writing generally don’t have three or more sentences per paragraph…especially lead sentences. In a world with many distractions, a lead that long is not going to be read nearly as much. It’s just not good writing, unless your goal is to get people to not read your content. Look at a newspaper–one or two sentence “graphs” only.

    Does Google really look at the number of sentences in the first paragraph? Any thoughts on this issue? Thanks.

  2. Joseph Miller, EON Product Manager says:

    Hi Justin,

    Thanks for the comment. To answer your question, Google does look at the number of sentences and how they are grouped within each story. Here is the exact wording of that error from Google’s site:

    “The article body that we extracted from the HTML page appears to consist of isolated sentences not grouped together into paragraphs. We generated this error to avoid including what might be an incorrect piece of text.”

    As I said before, this error is exceedingly rare. If you are going to throw out on piece of advice I gave, this is the one. I most frequently saw this error with very short, bullet point heavy releases with single sentence paragraphs.

    I don’t think that Google News is perfect, but it generally does a very good job of including almost all the news we send their way so I can’t fault them creating these rules.

    You are right to say the lead sentences are exceedingly important, but the headline is by far the most important element of the release in my opinion.

    • Hey thanks for that very useful information Joseph. Do you have to let Google know that you have posted a new post on your blog/site or is there a place where you would really have to submit the URL or new content?

      Sorry I am new to this.

  3. Daniel says:

    Always good to know what google is looking for in an article.

  4. Thanks for the post. This is give me new idea to grow my business. The main issue is how to make a “readable” article not only for Google but also for human being

  5. luke says:

    interesting post. to be honest i am not sure i got every point completely. but, wanted to step upand leave a note anyway. are you a freelance writer by vocation?, because your blog is really good.

  6. [...] Results suggest that search engines are getting smarter about handling symbols and it’s still best to leave symbols out of your headlines whenever possible.  Instead, focus on including keywords in your headlines and properly formatting your release for Google News. [...]

  7. Thanks for these tips. The bottom line seems to be that in the virtual world, good writing makes the cut, and cutesy writing doesn’t. Just like in the real world. Why would a headline ever have more than 22 words, anyway?

  8. [...] next closest competitor, Yahoo!, had 13.4%.  Guess that makes our recent SEO Tip Jar advice on making sure your release gets into Google News even more [...]

  9. Instructive tips on enhancing news release copy to improve search results. Occasionally I’ll compare Google with Yahoo! and Bing search results. Often the results are different. A challenge with all three are cached search results – even for content that has been moved or removed.

  10. [...] There is very little real estate available within your headline and if it is more than 22 words you might not make it into Google News.  With this in mind, consider the goal of the release and campaign when making your choice.  If [...]

  11. Dawn says:

    I didn’t know about the three sentence in the first paragraph tip. THANKS!

  12. carl cameron says:

    Where does one find any releases on Google News? I see only breaking news stories. Can you give a couple of examples?

  13. Good, simple tips. Once you meet these requirements, be sure to hyperlink several words and terms relevant to your product/service. When the release is picked up by other sites, you’ll have built several valuable links (depending on who picks it up, if they retain the links and how long these sites keep your release live).

    Good luck, everyone!

  14. Taylor says:

    This was a great post! Very helpful to know what exactly google is looking for, and why our releases may get overlooked. Thanks for providing key points/take away – and simple advice to ensure successful releases!

  15. carl cameron says:

    are there examples you can point to of product releases that, using these tips, actually make it onto Google News?

  16. [...] Why Your Release Might Not Make It In to Google NewsBusiness Wire’s Joseph Miller explores several reasons why the carefully crafted press release you worked so hard on might not show up on Google News, and he provides some helpful tips to ensure that it always does.Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in LoveThis Fast Company post explains how Neuroeconomist, Paul Zak has figured out that social networking releases a chemical in our brain that triggers “empathy, generosity, trust and more.” Click the link for the full read, or get the 50 second run-down via the video below. [...]

  17. [...] is no hard limit for the number of words in your headline, but if getting into Google News is a priority, you should make sure headlines contain fewer than 23 words to be within Google [...]

  18. [...] not using bullet points in or as the first paragraph of a release if at all possible, especially if getting into Google News is a priority.  Too many bullet points may cause the Google News robots to flag your release and [...]

  19. [...] SEO specialists suggest headline lengths of 65-70 characters in order to pass muster for inclusion in Google News.  Yet 77% of  16,000 Business Wire press releases reviewed by [...]

  20. [...] Make sure a release is at least 125 words, according to Business Wire, which submits hundreds of thousands of releases to Google News each [...]

  21. [...] “Why Your Release Might Not Make It In to Google News,” BusinessWired, March 24, 2010 Print, email or share Wylie's Writing Tips [...]

  22. [...] this edition of SEO Tip Jar I revisited the data sources from my popular post about getting rejected from Google News in order to see if anything had changed in the past year or if I could possibly discover any more [...]

  23. Bintang says:

    To get our blog contents appearing in Google News is everybody’s dream. This tips is really new for me.

    Thanks for sharing.

  24. [...] “Why Your Release Might Not Make It In to Google News,” BusinessWired, March 24, 2010 [...]

  25. […] Make sure a release is at least 125 words, according to Business Wire, which submits hundreds of thousands of releases to Google News each […]

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